united states colored troops


For those who don’t know what it is:


JUNE 19th

Two months after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger steamed into the port of Galveston, Tex. With 1,800 Union soldiers, including a contingent of United States Colored Troops. Granger was there to establish martial law over the westernmost state in the defeated Confederacy.

On June 19, two days after his arrival and 150 years ago today, Granger stood on the balcony of a building in downtown Galveston and read General Order No. 3 to the assembled crowd below.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” he pronounced.

This was the first time many in the crowd had learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Lincoln had issued two and a half years before.

White slaveholders had suppressed the news of the decree freeing the slaves in Confederate territory not under Union control.

“We all walked down the road singing and shouting to beat the band,” a Texas freedwoman recounted.

“Black men pitched their hats high in the muggy June air,” according to another report.

“Men and women screamed ‘We’s free! We’s free!’ ” Others left town, in what became known as “the scatter.”

The jubilation following Granger’s announcement in Galveston moved across Texas, quickly reaching the state’s 250,000 enslaved people.

A year later, a spontaneous holiday called Juneteenth — formed from the words June and nineteenth — began to be celebrated by the newly freed people of Galveston and other parts of Texas.

In 1867, Austin, the state capital, saw its first Juneteenth celebration under the direction of the Freedmen’s Bureau, the federal agency created to provide relief to people displaced by the Civil War.

Embraced as an exuberant day of jubilee, Juneteenth combined a history lesson and a political rally with the gospel hymns and sermons of a church service.

Barbecue was soon added to the mix — this being Texas — with strawberry-flavored red soda water to wash it down.

In time, rodeos, baseball games and family reunions all became part of Juneteenth tradition.

As former slaveholders attempted to maintain their control, this display of freedom was often met with violence.

Juneteenth revelers sought the relative safe haven of black churches — a poignant irony given the tragedy on Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. Some of these churches began raising money to buy land on which to mark Juneteenth.

In Houston, two black congregations collected pennies and nickels until a 10-acre parcel was purchased for $800 in 1872 and named Emancipation Park, which is still used today.

The festival of freedom spread across the former Confederacy in the late 19th century.

And as African-Americans moved north, they carried this celebration of liberation with them.

As Isabel Wilkerson wrote in “The Warmth of Other Suns,” her prizewinning account of the Great Migration: “The people from Texas took Juneteenth Day to Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and other places they went. Even now, with barbecues and red soda pop, they celebrate June 19, 1865.”

Granger’s order was momentous, but it was no magic bullet. Even with the ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865, the emancipated people of Texas, and the rest of America, confronted violent resistance as they attempted to claim the promise of their liberation. Any small gains came in the face of whips and guns, followed by the well-documented decades of Jim Crow laws and Klan terror.

Officially neglected, over time Juneteenth lost much of its resonance in the black community.

But it has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. Spurred by a revival of pride in African-American traditions long denied or suppressed, Juneteenth has gained official recognition — although not necessarily full legal holiday status — in a number of states, starting, appropriately, with Texas, which made Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees in 1980.

Still, 150 years after its birth, Juneteenth remains largely unacknowledged on America’s national calendar. Many Americans are unaware of its existence, or its roots. Sadly, that ignorance of Juneteenth reflects a deeper issue: the continued existence of two histories, black and white, separate and unequal.

Frederick Douglass voiced that fundamental divide in a memorable speech on July 4, 1852. “The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me,” he said. “This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine.”

Juneteenth is the flip side of the Independence Day coin. One hundred and fifty years after General Granger told the enslaved people of Texas they were free, Juneteenth is viewed by many of those who are aware of it as an “African-American holiday.”

That perception unfairly diminishes the fundamental significance of Juneteenth. The day should be recognized for what it is: a shared point of pride in the symbolic end of centuries of racial slavery — a crime against humanity and the great stain on America’s soul. As meaningful as Independence Day itself, Juneteenth completes the circle, reaffirming “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as the rights of all, not a select few.

In honor of Memorial Day: Capt. Oliver Burgess Meredith, United States Army Air Force during World War II. Photo taken at US Army Headquarters in London, June 10th, 1943. This is a photo of Burgess before his assignment to the 8th AF. Notice his Aviation Cadet wings. 

The only fan page solely dedicated to Burgess Meredith // Lovingly ran by his grandniece in attempt to keep his legacy alive.

United States Colored Troops

United States Colored Troops Memorial Statue located in John G. Lancaster Park, Lexington Park, Maryland. The memorial and accompanying informational kiosks honors and documents the bravery of more than 600 African-American soldiers from St. Mary’s County, Maryland who fought as Union Army soldiers during the American Civil War. Includes a display on two who won the Medal of Honor,

This statue is the centerpiece of the memorial. It shows a USCT soldier in full battle dress, as he would look marching between engagements. The service of USCT soldiers and sailors was vital to the success of Union forces in the war and would ultimately contribute to the liberation of all enslaved peoples of St. Mary’s County and the United States as a whole. It would also lead to the preservation of the Union and the extension of its founding principles to all of its citizens.

Photo by Potomac Sun Photography


Samuel Truehart Of The 5th United States Colored Troops- His Wife Ran Away From A Slave Owner To Marry Him

He was born to Peter and Maria Truehart of Jefferson, Indiana in 1843. According to family oral history, Peter Truehart, a Cooper (barrelmaker) and a Freeman, bought his wife out of slavery.

According to the muster roles of the 5th United States Colored Cavalry (USCC), Samuel Truehart was a slave in Frankfort, Kentucky before volunteering to serve the Union cause. It is believed that he married Mary Elliot, also of Frankfort, just prior to enlisting in the service in the late summer of 1864. At the time, Mary, a slave born in Baltimore, was a cook at a boarding house in Frankfort. Supposedly, she ran away from her owner to marry Samuel.

He enrolled in the Union army on September 11, 1864 at age twenty-one and was mustered into Company E of the 5th Regiment Cavalry of the United Stated Colored Troops on September 12, 1864 at Camp Nelson, Kentucky. Based on the date of his enlistment, it is assumed that he participated in both Burbridge’ s (9/64-10/64) and Stoneman’s (12/64) raids on Saltville. According to his compiled service record, Samuel Truehart was hospitalized at the Convalescent Camp, U.S.A. Hospital at Camp Nelson for an unknown reason from October 14, 1864 until he returned to active duty in December 1864. Truehart was mustered out on March 16, l866 in Helena, Arkansas.

Together Sam and Mary raised their four children to adulthood., Samuel died in Atchison on August 12, 1897

Eastman Johnson (1824-1906)
“The Lord is My Shepherd” (1863)
Oil on wood
Located in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, United States

The title of the painting comes from Psalm 23, which begins with the line: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Johnson painted it just after the Emancipation Proclamation was announced in 1863. Its imagery includes an African-American man reading the first part of a Bible, possibly the Book of Exodus. He is sitting against a blue jacket, which may indicate service in the Union army. President Abraham Lincoln had recently authorized organization of the United States Colored Troops.

The First African American Regiment Recruited In Ohio

A Portion of the 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, later re-designated the 5th USCT, in Delaware, Ohio

Photograph showing a portion of the 127th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). Taken in Delaware, Ohio on Sandusky Street immediately south of the Ft. Delaware Hotel, probably in 1863. The 127th Regiment OVI was the first complete African American regiment recruited in Ohio. It was later re-designated the 5th Regiment, United States Colored Troops.


   This is James Monroe Trotter, a Civil War hero who lived in Chillicothe, Ohio. He was also a writer, educator, activist, and scholar.

    Born in Missisippi in 1842, James was the son of a slave. His father was her owner, who freed James’s mother when he married in the 1850s. James and his mother then moved to Ohio, where he attended a school for freed slaves. He became a teacher himself, moving to Chillicothe to teach in schools for students of color.

     While living in Chillicothe, he met Viginia Isaacs. Her mother had been born into slavery on Monticello, the plantation belonging to Thomas Jefferson. Her father was a grandson of Elizabeth Hemmings. Her father was one of the slaves freed by Jefferson’s will, but her mother was not. She was sold on the auction block in 1827. Her father saved money to buy the freedom of his wife and children. When the whole family was freed, they traveled to Chillicothe.

    During the Civil War, James Trotter traveled to Boston so he could enlist in the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (United States Colored Troops), Company K. He was the second man of color to reach the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He was wounded in battle at Honey Hill, but recovered.

    In camp, he continued his teaching, tutoring soldiers in reading and writing. He fought for the black troops to receive the same pay as their white counterparts.

   After the war, James Trotter married Virginia Isaacs. The couple moved to Boston, where he became the first African-American to be employed by the Post Office. However, he eventually resigned the position in protest when his race kept him from being promoted like other employees.

    He had an interest in music and wrote a comprehensive study of it in a book entitled Music and Some Highly Musical People, still used by music students today.

    James Trotter was appointed Recorder of Deeds in Washington DC by Grover Cleveland, the second African-American man to hold that post. (The first being Fredrick Douglass.)

    He died in 1892 of tuberculosis.

Martin Delany - Black Nationalism
May 6, 1812 – January 24, 1885

Martin Robison Delany was an African-American abolitionist, journalist, physician, and writer, arguably the first proponent of black nationalism; Martin Delany is considered to be the grandfather of Black nationalism. He was also one of the first three blacks admitted to Harvard Medical School. Trained as an assistant and a physician, he treated patients during the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1854 in Pittsburgh, when many doctors and residents fled the city. He worked alongside Frederick Douglass to publish the North Star. Active in recruiting blacks for the United States Colored Troops, he was commissioned as a major, the first African-American field officer in the United States Army during the American Civil War.

After the Civil War, he worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau in the South, settling in South Carolina, where he became politically active. He ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor and was appointed a Trial Judge. Later he switched his party loyalty and worked for the campaign of Democrat Wade Hampton III, who won the 1876 election for governor.

In 1859 and 1862, as a response to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Delany published parts of Blake: Or The Huts of America in serialized form. His novel portrayed an insurrectionist’s travels through slave communities. He believed that Stowe had portrayed slaves as too passive, although he praised her highlighting the cruelty of Southern slave owners. Modern scholars have praised Delany’s novel as an accurate interpretation of black culture. The first half of Part One was serialized in The Anglo-African Magazine, January to July 1859. The rest of Part One was included in serial form in the Weekly Anglo African Magazine from 1861-1862. This was the first novel by a black man to be published in the United States.[citation needed]

Early life and education
Delany was born free in Charles Town, West Virginia (then part of Virginia, a slave state) to Pati and Samuel Delaney. Although his father Samuel was enslaved, his mother was a free woman, and Martin took her status under slave law. Both sets of Martin Delany’s grandparents were African. Delaney’s paternal grandparents were of Gola ethnicity (from modern-day Liberia), taken captive during warfare and brought as slaves to the Virginia colony. Family oral history said that the grandfather was a chieftain, escaped to Canada for a period, and died resisting slavery abuses.

Pati’s parents were born in the Niger Valley, west Africa, and were of Mandinka ethnicity. Her father was said to have been a prince named Shango, captured with his betrothed Graci and brought to America as slaves. After some time, they were given their freedom in Virginia, perhaps based on their noble birth. Shango returned to Africa. Graci stayed in America with their only daughter Pati. When Delany was just a few years old, attempts were made to enslave him and a sibling. Their mother Pati carried her two youngest children 20 miles to the courthouse in Winchester to argue successfully for her family’s freedom based on her own free birth.

As he was growing up, Delany and his siblings learned to read and write using The New York Primer and Spelling Book, given to them by a peddler. Virginia prohibited education of black people. When the book was discovered in September 1822, Pati took her children out of Virginia to Chambersburg in the free state of Pennsylvania to ensure their continued freedom. They had to leave their father Samuel, but a year later he bought his freedom and rejoined the family in Chambersburg.

In Chambersburg, the young Delany continued learning. Occasionally he left school to work when his family could not afford for his education to continue. In 1831, at the age of 19, he journeyed west to the growing city of Pittsburgh, where he became a barber and laborer. Having heard stories about his parents’ ancestors, he wanted to visit Africa, which he considered his spiritual home. Martin Delaney and 3 other people were accepted into Harvard Medical School but, white students had a petition so the African Americans were not accepted into the school.

Photo:  Wikipedia


Milton Holland - United States Colored Troops- 

Recipient Of America’s Highest Military Decoration—The Medal Of Honor —For His Actions At The Battle Of Chaffin’s Farm


Holland was born as the son of Bird Holland, a white slaveowner (killed in action at the Battle of Mansfield) and an African-American slave. He joined the Army from Athens, Ohio.  At the Athens County Fairgrounds he signed to the recruitment rolls 149 young black men and raised what was to become Company C of the 5th United States Colored Infantry

RANK/UNIT: Sergeant Major, 5th U.S. Colored Troops.

CITATION: "Took command of Company C, after all the officers had been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.“

MEDAL PRESENTED: 6 April 1865.

BIOGRAPHICAL DATA: Born: Austin, TX. 1844.

Holland was an 18-year-old shoemaker when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He stood 5'8” tall. Holland and the 5th were present at the famous “Battle of the Crater” in Petersburg, VA on 30 July 1864, but were not used in the disastrous Union charge. At Chaffin’s Farm (Fort Harrison), Holland and the 5th suffered heavy casualties during the assault and subsequent hand-to-hand combat. “But, with a courage that knew no bounds, the men stood like granite figures. They routed the enemy and captured the breastworks. The courage displayed by young Holland’s regiment on this occasion called for the highest praise from Gen. Grant, who personally rode over the battlefield in company with Generals Butler and Draper.”

By order of General Butler, Holland was promoted to Captain, but because of his color was refused the commission by the War Department. Holland was later present when General Joseph E. Johnston C.S.A. surrendered to General William T. Sherman. Sergeant-Major Holland was mustered out of service at Carolina City, NC, on September 20, 1865.

An order from Gen. Benjamin Butler, dated 11 October 1864, had this to say:

Milton M. Holland, sergeant-major, Fifth U.S. Colored Troops, commanding Company C; James H. Bronson, first sergeant, commanding Company D; Robert Pinn, first sergeant, commanding Company I, wounded; Powhatan Beaty, first sergeant, commanding Company G, Fifth U.S. Colored Troops–all these gallant colored soldiers were left in command, all their company officers being killed or wounded, and led them gallantly and meritoriously through the day. For these services they have most honorable mention, and the commanding general will cause a special medal to be struck in honor of these gallant colored soldiers.

Official Records, #89, p168.

During the war, Holland wrote to, and was published in, his local newspaper, the Athens, Ohio Messenger. Milton, M. Holland, Sergeant Major, 5th USCT Library of Congress

Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1978, Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979 p. 119.
Mitchell, Joseph B. Lt. Col., The Badge of Gallantry, New York: MacMillian & Co., 1986 pp. 141-3.
Bearss- Edwin C., “Black Medals of Honor Received a New Market Heights, 29 September 1864.” National park Service Memo in Richmond NBP files, 2 April 1979.
Davis, William C., Death in the Trenches: Grant at Petersburg. Alexandria, VA Time-Life books, 1986. p. 124.

“Contraband”- Full Length Portrait, Young Boy In Civil War Uniform With Kepi

Contraband was a term commonly used in the United States military during the Civil War to describe a new status for certain escaped slaves or those who affiliated with Union forces. The United States Congress determined that the U.S. would not return escaped slaves who went to Union lines to their former Confederate masters, thus classification as contraband. Thousands of men  enlisted in the United States Colored Troops when recruitment started in 1863.

From: Randolph Linsly Simpson African-American collection,  In ink, recto, beneath photo: “‘Contraband’ From 'Roanoake Island’” Item #D-47 

Source: Boundless. “From Slaves to Contraband to Free People.” Boundless U.S. History. 

Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

This flag belonged to the 84th Regiment of Infantry, United States Colored Troops. The red stripes bear the regiment’s name and number and some of the battles in which the 84th fought. 

The unit was organized April 4, 1864 and mustered for service on March 14, 1866. The unit fought primarily in Louisiana with three other regiments of colored troops and a larger force of Union volunteers.

African American Cavalry Sergeant

Today’s photograph is of an unidentified sergeant of the United States Colored Cavalry.  His sideburns don’t quite connect with his goatee, a very interesting look.  The approximately 180,000 African American soldiers, like this sergeant, who served in the Union army were instrumental in turning the tide of the war for the Union. 

The Murder of Octavius Catto: One of the Earliest Instances of An African-American Being Murdered In America, And Why His Murder Still Matters & Becomes More Relevant Today

Who Was Octavius Catto?

Octavius Valentine Catto (February 22, 1839 – October 10, 1871) was a black educator, intellectual, and civil rights activist in Philadelphia. He became principal of male students at the Institute for Colored Youth, where he had also been educated. Born free inCharleston, South Carolina, in a prominent mixed-race family, he moved north as a boy with his family. He became educated and served as a teacher, becoming active in civil rights. As a man, he also became known as a top cricket and baseball player in 19th-century Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Catto became a martyr to racism, as he was shot and killed in election-day violence in Philadelphia, where ethnic Irish of theDemocratic Party, which was anti-Reconstruction and had opposed black suffrage, attacked black men to prevent their voting for Republican candidates.

His Life Before His Murder

In Philadelphia, Catto began his education at Vaux Primary School and then Lombard Grammar School, both segregated institutions. In 1853, he entered the all-white Allentown Academy in Allentown, New Jersey, located east of the Delaware River. In 1854, when his family returned to Philadelphia, he became a student at that city's Institute for Colored Youth (ICY).[1] Managed by the Society of Friends(Quakers), ICY’s curriculum included classical study of Latin, Greek, geometry, and trigonometry.[6]

While a student at ICY, Catto presented papers and took part in scholarly discussions at “a young men’s instruction society”. Led by fellow ICY student Jacob C. White, Jr., they met weekly at the ICY (which eventually was renamed as the Banneker Institute, in honor of Benjamin Banneker).[1][4] Catto graduated from ICY in 1858, winning praise from principal Ebenezer Bassett for “outstanding scholarly work, great energy, and perseverance in school matters.”[1] Catto did a year of post-graduate study, including private tutoring in both Greek and Latin, in Washington, D. C. In 1859, he returned to Philadelphia, where he was elected full member and Recording Secretary of the Banneker Institute. He also was hired as teacher of English and mathematics at the ICY.[1][4][7]

On May 10, 1864, Catto delivered ICY’s commencement address, which gave a historical synopsis of the school.[6] In addition, Catto’s address touched on the issue of the potential insensitivity of white teachers toward the needs and interests of African-American students:

It is at least unjust to allow a blind and ignorant prejudice to so far disregard the choice of parents and the will of the colored tax-payers, as to appoint over colored children white teachers, whose intelligence and success, measured by the fruits of their labors, could neither obtain nor secure for them positions which we know would be more congenial to their tastes.[6]

Catto also spoke of the Civil War, then in progress. He believed that the United States government had to evolve several times in order to change. He understood that the change must come not necessarily for the benefit of African Americans, but more for America’s political and industrial welfare. This would be a mutual benefit for all Americans.

“[…] It is for the purpose of promoting, as far as possible, the preparation of the colored man for the assumption of these new relations with intelligence and with the knowledge which promises success, that the Institute feels called upon at this time to act with more energy and on a broader scale than has heretofore been required”.[6]

On January 2, 1865, at a gathering at the National Hall in Philadelphia to celebrate the second anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Catto “delivered a very able address, and one that was a credit to the mind and heart of the speaker.” (Christian Recorder, January 7, 1865).

In 1869, Bassett left ICY when he was appointed ambassador to Haiti. Catto lobbied to replace him as principal; however, the ICY board chose Catto’s fellow teacher, Fanny Jackson Coppin, as head of school. Catto was elected as the principal of the ICY’s male department.[1][8] In 1870, Catto joined the Franklin Institute, a center for science and education whose white leaders supported his membership in the face of racial opposition.[1] Catto taught at ICY until his death in 1871.

The Civil War increased Catto’s activism for abolition and equal rights. He joined with Frederick Douglass and other black leaders to form a Recruitment Committee to sign up black men to fight for the Union and emancipation. After the Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania in 1863, Catto helped raise a company of black volunteers for the state’s defense; their help, however, was refused by the staff of Major General Darius N. Couch on the grounds that the men were not authorized to fight. (Couch was later corrected byUS Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, but not until the aspiring soldiers had returned to Philadelphia.) Acting with Douglass and the Union League, Catto helped raise eleven regiments of United States Colored Troops in the Philadelphia area. These men were sent to the front and many saw action. Catto was commissioned as a Major, but did not fight.[1]

On Friday, April 21, 1865, at the State House in Philadelphia, Catto presented the regimental flag to Lieutenant Colonel Trippe, commander of the 24th United States Colored Troops. An account of Catto’s presentation speech was reported the following day in the Christian Recorder:

The speaker then paid a tribute to the two hundred thousand blacks, who, in spite of obloquy and the old bane of prejudice, have been nobly fighting our battles, trusting to a redeemed country for the full recognition of their manhood in the future. He thought that in the plan of reconstruction, the votes of the blacks could not be lightly dispensed with. They were the only unqualified friends of the Union in the South. In the impressive language written on this flag, “Let Soldiers in War be Citizens in Peace,” the Banks policy may plant the seed of another revolution. Our statesmen will have to take care lest they prove neither so good nor wise under the seductions of mild-eyed peace, as heretofore, amidst the tumults of grim-visaged war. Merit should also be recognised in the black soldier, and the way opened to his promotion. De Tocqueville prophesied that if ever America underwent Revolution, it would be brought about by the presence of the black race, and that it would result from the inequality of their condition. This has been verified. But there is another side to the picture; and while he thought it his duty to keep these things before the public, there are motives of interest founded on our faith in the nation’s honor, to act in this strife. Freedom has rapidly advanced since the firing on Sumter; and since the Genius of Liberty has directed the war, we have gone from victory to victory. Soldiers! Accept this flag on behalf of the citizens of Philadelphia. I know too well the mettle of your pasture, that you will not dishonor it. Keep before your eyes the noble deeds of your fellows at Port HudsonFort Wagner, and on other historic fields. Desert them not. Accept, Colonel, this flag on behalf of the regiment, and may God bless you and them. (Christian Recorder, April 22, 1865)

In November 1864, Catto was elected to be the Corresponding Secretary of the Pennsylvania Equal Rights League.[1] He also served as Vice President of the State Convention of Colored People held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in February 1865. (Liberator March 3, 1865: 35).

Catto fought fearlessly for the desegregation of Philadelphia’s trolley car system. The May 18, 1865 issue of the New York Times ran a story discussing the civil disobediencetactics employed by Catto as he fought for civil rights:

Philadelphia, Wednesday, May 17—2 P. M.
Last evening a colored man got into a Pine-street passenger car, and refused all entreaties to leave the car, where his presence appeared to be not desired.

The conductor of the car, fearful of being fined for ejecting him, as was done by the Judges of one of our courts in a similar case, ran the car off the track, detached the horses, and left the colored man to occupy the car all by himself. The colored man still firmly maintains his position in the car, having spent the whole of the night there.

The conductor looks upon the part he enacted in the affair as a splendid piece of strategy.

The matter creates quite a sensation in the neighborhood where the car is standing, and crowds of sympathizers flock around the colored man.

(New York Times, May 18, 1865, p. 5)

A meeting of the Union League of Philadelphia was held in Sansom Street Hall on Thursday, June 21, 1866, to protest and denounce the forcible ejection of several black women from Philadelphia’s street cars. At this meeting, Catto presented the following resolutions:

ResolvedThat we earnestly and unitedly protest against the proscription which excludes us from the city cars, as an outrage against the enlightened civilization of the age.

ResolvedThat we cannot discover any reason based upon good sense or common justice for the continuance of a practice which has long ceased to disgrace democratic New York, Washington, St. LouisHarrisburg and other cities, whose pledges of fidelity to the principles of freedom and civil liberty have not been so frequent as have been those of our own city.

ResolvedThat, with feelings of sorrow rather than pride, we remind our white fellow-citizens of the glaring inconsistency and palpable injustice of forcing delicate women and innocent children, by the ruthless hands of ungentlemanly and unprincipled conductors and drivers, to places on the front platform, subjecting to storm and rain, cold and heat, relatives of twelve thousand colored soldiers, whose services these very citizens gladly accepted when the nation was in her hour of trouble, and they seriously entreated, under the chances of IMPARTIAL DRAFTS, to fill the depleted ranks of the Union army.

ResolvedThat while men and women of a Christian community can sit unmoved and in silence, and see women barbarously thrown from the cars, — and while our courts of justice fail to grant us redress for acts committed in violation of the chartered privileges of these railroad companies, — we shall never rest at ease, but will agitate and work, by our means and by our influence, in court and out of court, asking aid of the press, calling upon Christians to vindicate their Christianity, and the members of the law to assert the principles of the profession by granting us justice and right, until these invidious and unjust usages shall have ceased.

ResolvedThat we do solemnly pledge ourselves to assist by our means any suit brought against the perpetrators of outrages such as those, the occurrence of which has convened this meeting; and we respectfully call upon our liberal-minded and friendly white fellow-citizens to cease to remain silent witnesses of the grievance of which we complain, and to demonstrate the sincerity of their professions by an interference in our behalf. (Brown 1866)

Later enlisting the help of US Senators Thaddeus Stevens and William D. Kelley, Catto was instrumental in the passage of a Pennsylvania bill that prohibited segregation on transit systems in the state. Publicity about a conductor’s being fined who refused to admit Catto’s fiancée to a Philadelphia streetcar helped establish the new law in practice.[1]

Catto’s crusade for equal rights was capped in March 1869, when Pennsylvania voted to ratify the 15th Amendment, which prohibited discrimination against citizens in registration and voting based on race, color or prior condition; effectively, it provided suffrage to black men. (No women then had the vote.) It was fully ratified in 1870.

His Murder On A Philadelphia Street

On Election Day, October 10, 1871, Catto was teaching in Philadelphia. Fights broke out in the city between black and white voters, as the elections were high in tension and parties reflected racial opposition. Black voters, who were mostly Republican, faced intimidation and violence from white voters, especially ethnic Irish, who were partisans of the city's Democratic machine. Irish immigrants had entered the city in great numbers during and after the Great Famine of the 1840s; they competed with free blacks for jobs and housing. City police were called on to quell the violence. Instead, often ethnic Irish themselves, they exacerbated the problems, using their power to prevent black citizens from voting. A Lieutenant Haggerty was later arrested for having encouraged police under his command to keep African Americans from voting.[1]

On his way to vote, Catto was intermittently harassed by whites. Police reports indicate that he had purchased a revolver for protection. At the intersection of Ninth and South streets, Catto was accosted by Frank Kelly, an ethnic Irish man, who shot him three times. Catto died of his wounds. The city inquest was not able to determine if Catto had pulled his own gun. Kelly was not convicted of assault or murder.[1]

Catto’s military funeral at Lebanon Cemetery in Passyunk, Philadelphia was well-attended. The murder of Catto, an important leader, and violence throughout the election, coupled with the resurgence of the anti-Reconstruction Democratic Party in the city, marked the beginning of a decline in black militancy in 19th-century Philadelphia.[1] Later, after the cemetery was closed down, Catto’s remains were reinterred at Eden Cemetery, in Collingdale, Pennsylvania.

Octavius Catto’s life matters, so much. More people need to know his story.

Source: Wikipedia

U. S. Colored Troops- Louisiana Native Guards, 1861

The United States Colored Troops participated in 449 encounters in the Civil War, of which 39 were major battles. The most active units in the South and West were the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry (79th USCI), 14 battles, and the 1st Mississippi Cavalry (3rd USCC), 10 battles.

Three regiments participated in the Battle of Olustee, Florida, on February 20, 1864, in which the Union forces were defeated. Hundreds of lives were lost and many were captured and sent to the Andersonville, Georgia, prison. Nine regiments participated in the Battle of Fort Blakely, Alabama, from March 31 to April 9, 1865. In Virginia, 22 regiments participated in the Siege of Petersburg. One cavalry and twelve infantry regiments fought at Chapin’s Farm just outside of Richmond on September 29 and 30, 1864. Thirteen U.S. Colored Troops were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Reference: Library of Congress, Photo: National Archives

Gettysburg Reunion 1913- African American Civil War Veterans wearing their Union medals and GAR ribbons representing the Colored Troops, they were also present in Gettysburg in July, 1913.

There were a number of African American GAR members at the big reunion at Gettysburg in 1913, even though there were no black Union units that fought there.

In the years after the Civil War, black and white Union soldiers who survived the horrific struggle joined the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)–The Union army’s largest veterans’ organization.

 ~although black veterans still suffered under the contemporary racial mores, the GAR honored its black members in many instances and ascribed them a greater equality.  Their membership in the GAR demonstrated that their wartime suffering created a transcendent bond–comradeship–that overcame even the most pernicious social barrier–race-based separation. -The Won Cause (Civil War America)  by Barbara Gannon (Author)

By the end of the war, African-Americans accounted for 10% of the Union Army.  180,000 men – many former slaves – volunteered, a staggering 85% of the eligible population.  Nearly 40,000 gave their lives for the cause.  The USCT (United States Colored Troops) was a watershed in African-American history - The Civil War Trust.